Monday, December 29, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
We had a good week as everyone can see from the great heartbeat video below. We are now in Atlanta after a very long car trip - the entirety of which I felt like I had to pee.
1. I still feel great with lots of energy.
2. The baby moves more and more and it never stops being awesome.
1. I'm having more and more trouble getting comfortable at night. Recently I've felt like one of my ribs is asleep most of the night, which is superweird and annoying.
2. I just realized today that my belly button is starting to strain under the pressure :(
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Afterward we did some baby shopping around the city, then Laura and I met her sister Julia for Christmas Tea at the St. Regis. The best part was Julia works for a children's magazine and brought me some free swag from her work! It was so incredibly generous of her and I love few things more than free stuff.
On Sunday, we met my dear friend Dave for brunch and did some Christmas shopping at the market at Union Square. Then Nicholas and I made our way to all the classic New York at Christmas stop - FAO Schwartz, Rockefeller Plaza, Saks. It was really nice because we got to see it all lit up at night, where the last couple of years we've only walked around during the day.
Monday, December 15, 2008
1. I had a very paranoid day or two where I felt like everything that possibly could go wrong would.
2. I've been getting tired really really easy lately.
1. I have felt the baby move several more times over the past couple of days. It's pretty awesome, except by the time I realize what it is it goes away!
2. While we were in New York, I bought the hippest baby toy I've been coveting at a discount!
Monday, December 08, 2008
On Saturday, we went to the White House to see all the Christmas decorations. The tour is very short and I can see how it would be less than impressive on a regular day. However, the decorations really made it exciting and interesting. They were beautifully done and it was fun to hear about all the Christmas traditions. More important than anything of the decorations was that I saw my favorite members of the Bush administration - Barney and Ms. Beasley!!! They were playing outside and I was ridiculously excited to see their adorable little faces. :) After the Tour, we went to see Milk, which was excellent, and went to a cocktail party thrown by my friend Amy to showcase her mother's art.
On Sunday, we had brunch with some friends and then went shopping. We drove out to Maryland so I could go to an Old Navy Maternity and Gap Maternity, mainly because I despise shopping online. Man, was it worth the trip! I bought a ton of stuff and no longer feel like I'm wearing the same things over and over.
I've got nothing - it's been that good of a week :)
1. I think I felt the baby move on earlier this week, but it was really light and I haven't felt anything since so I'm reserving the full level of excitement. :)
2. All my new maternity clothes!
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
1. I had a crazy bad sinus headache for like 3 days in a row. It was apparently due to the dryness because once I got some nasal spray and a humidifer it went away.
2. I thought shopping for maternity clothes would be fun. It is not.
1. I've gotten almost all of my energy back and I feel amazing. I still get tired easy but overall I feel great.
2. I also don't food aversions anymore and I'm basically eating whatever I want (within reason of course).
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Also we bought our stroller! I've wanted a Bugaboo forever. I love the way you can switch the handle bar back and forth. I love that you have a pram and a regular stroller. I love its versitility and I love that it isn't one of those light green plaid and plastic monstrosities that I see on the street. Of course, what I love the most is I got a lightly used one off Craigslist for half the price! I am super-happy with our purchase and Nicholas and I spent several hours last night ohhing and ahhing over it.
1. My skin is NOT getting better and I'm so over it. This baby is going to owe me for acne scar removal.
2. I'm still not totally over my food aversions. I wish I could just go back to eating whatever I want.
1. Nicholas is getting really excited about the baby, which makes me very happy. I know it's not constantly at the forefront of his mind like it is mine (for obvious reasons). But I think it's getting more real by the day for him and it's fun to talk about all the baby stuff together.
2. I know this is technically next week but I'm super excited about going home and all my family seeing my baby bump! It's getting bigger and cuter by the day and I can't wait to show it off. :)
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
1. I've been getting headaches the past couple of days. They're not too bad but I could do without them.
2. I recently learned I'm supposed to be getting 80 grams of protein, which seems all but impossible.
1. Overall, I'm still feeling much better - I even did prenatal yoga twice this week. :)
2. I got to see a former coworkers twin baby girls, which always lifts my spirits and reminds me of the light at the end of the tunnel.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
- 7 versions of Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
- 7 versions of O Holy Night
- 9 versions of The Christmas Song
- 9 versions of I'll Be Home for Christmas
- 9 versions of White Christmas
- 11 versions of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
So you know what I'm doing today?
I'm downloading all of my several hundred holiday songs today and I'm going to start listening to them today. I've decided it is officially "the holidays," which means I can listen to holiday music.
If you don't like it...I don't care. Take it up with the baby. ;)
The worms died.
All of them.
In my defense, they were really thriving for several months. They seemed to suffer when we were away in Tunisia but I thought I'd got them back on track soon thereafter. However, once I got pregnant, I had bigger things on my mind like rolling around on the couch trying not to hurl and the worms took a back seat. I think the real problem was that since I only wanted to eat peanut butter and jelly and PopTars there wasn't much to feed them and they starved.
I feel really bad and if I ever get a yard I will definitely attempt outdoor composting. However, doing it indoors and making sure they ate enough but not too much or that things didn't get too acidic or mold didn't grow was a lot of work.
Nicholas was right. I was wrong. I don't want to talk about it.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
I have felt much better over the past several days. I've gotten more energy and feel more like eating, although I've realized that I still mainly crave my comfort foods. The weirdest symptom is I can't really read or have no desire to read. It's like I can't focus or something but my friend Annie said she had a similar reading aversion and it eventually went away.
So, that's basically it. Nothing too exciting. We've only had one appointment with our midwife where we got to hear the heartbeat, which was amazing. We don't go back again for a couple more weeks and we don't find out the gender until January. I'm going to try to post every week and I thought I'd start a little weekly tradition based on my favorite pregnancy podcast - Pregtastic - where every week each woman lists 2 Ups and 2 Downs of her pregnancy.
1. The nausea isn't completely gone and I'm still afraid to drink orange juice, which is one of my favorite drinks but sets my stomach on fire.
2. I do feel good enough to exercise so I can no longer use feeling crummy as an excuse. ;)
1. I bought two very cute pairs of maternity jeans at H&M that I can't wait to wear this week.
2. Now that I've completed my 13th week, I'm officially in the second trimester! Wohoo!
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Monday, November 03, 2008
Instead, this post seems to coincide with another post I've been working on for awhile. The coincidental timing seemed to make sense so I thought I would combine the two.
At the end of May, Nicholas and I will welcome our first child into the world. We are beyond excited and cannot wait for our lives to be changed in every way possible. So, I can't help but look at this election through the prism of not only how this election will affect me, but also future generations, and this is what I know for sure.
On July 27, 2004, Barack Obama stood on the stage of the Democratic National Convention and stated these words:
He offered a vision of America that took my breath away. It is an America I believe only he can deliver.
Most importantly, it is an America I want to raise my baby in. That is why I am voting for Barack Obama.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I waited to write about this article because I hoped some of my anger would dissipate. It hasn't. I am still furious.
Now, let me be clear. There are racist people in the South. To say the South has a long, complicated racial history is a bit like saying the Grand Canyon is a hole in Arizona. However, I am extraordinarily tired of people from other regions of the country acting like we have a monopoly on racism. There are racists in every, single state in this country. Racism is institutionalized and it's pervasive. However, that is not the conversation people want to have. It's so much easier to march down to Mississippi, find the first redneck in a baseball hat, and sit in judgement on the racist South. Everybody feels superior to the poor, backwards South and nobody is forced to examine the real complexity of the issue.
While we're at it, I'd like to clear something else up. Not everybody in the South is a racist! I realize this might come as a shock, especially if you partake mass media from time to time, but it's true. Southerners are just as complex as any other group and we are not all the same. Unfortunately, Southerners are one of the few, remaining groups it completely acceptable to stereotype. What if the tables were turned in this article? What if I marched into a predominantly Asian or gay or feel-in-the-blank neighborhood, quoted six people as saying the most stereotypically ridiculous remarks, then made assumptions about the entire group? And made them without quoting a single poll, study, or historical example? How would that go over? I'm guessing not very well.
Of course, the source of the article is another source of the problem. Not to sound like a Pace Salsa commercial, but New York City! Are you kidding me? There is already a lot of animosity between Southerners and what they see as the Eastern elite who look down on them. Needless to say, articles like this don't help.
I'm not asking for pity. I know people don't have a lot of patience for white girls complaining about stereotypes. However, the South is my home and I love it. It's a fierce love based not on delusions about it's perfection or superiority, but on honest respect for its history and what I believe it has to offer. And I do not take kindly to what I see as cheap and easy exploitation of it for a story.
Monday, October 13, 2008
I truly believe one of the most important questions to ask as moral, ethical people is "Where does my food come from?"
We eat three or more times a day and the decisions we make affect our psyche, our body, our budgets, our communities, our planet. It is a gift to yourself to become informed on this issue.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Believe me I don't say this lightly...I'm proud of Britney Spears.
The last CD I wasn't rooting for her because I didn't honestly believe she was better or had her life in order. I think this time is different, especially if the quality of her performance is any reflection.
Monday, October 06, 2008
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Ain't kharma a bitch.
Believe me when I say, if they lied to members of their own team, they most certainly lied to us...just in case anyone was still wondering.
What was that about understanding the worries of the average woman?
That's right being a mayor or governor absolutely doesn't qualify you!
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Like Leslie, I believe this is impossible, so I’ll do my personal top ten.
- Steel Magnolias – if you want to understand me on a whole new level, watch this movie
- Gone with the Wind – I used to collect GWTW memorabilia when I was little
- Almost Famous – for those who love music
- Dirty Dancing - because I wanted to bring Patrick Swayze to show and tell
- Pretty Woman - Julia Roberts is my number one celebrity I want to be my friend, although if I was being honest Tina Fey is giving her a real run for her money.
- 40 Year Old Virgin – funny EVERY time
- Shag - PERFECT slumber party fare
- Working Girl - see here.
- A Christmas Story - the best Christmas movie of all time
- Office Space - perfect every time.
Monday, September 15, 2008
I figured I should include all the places I've actually lived.
1. Paducah, KY
2. Lexington, KY
3. Durham, NC
4. Washington, DC
5. New York City - but not too long and not with kids
6. Paris, France
7. Louisville, KY
8. Nashville, TN
9. Charleston, SC
10. Savannah, GA
Thursday, September 11, 2008
- Ricki: "How did you know that?" Rayanne: "Because I live…like in the world." (My So Called Life)
- Julia Sugarbaker: "In general it has been the men who have done the raping and the robbing and the killing and the war-mongering for the last two thousand years.... and it's been the men who have done the pillaging and the beheading and the subjugating of whole races into slavery. It has been the men who have done the law making and the money making and the most of the mischief making! So if the world isn't quite what you had in mind you have only yourselves to thank!! (Designing Women)
- Baby: "I carried the watermelon." (Dirty Dancing)
- Tess: "You want another answer. Ask another girl." (Working Girl)
- Lester Bangs: The only true currency in this bankrupt world... is what you share with someone else when you're uncool. (Almost Famous)
- Jay: "Dude, you think this is accident! This is premeditated partner!" (40-year-old Virgin)
- Mark: "Don't tease me about my hobbies. I don't tease you about being an asshole." (Garden State)
- Shelby: "My colors are blush and bashful. I have chose two shades of pink one is much deeper than the other." (Steel Magnolias)
- Grandpa: "Dewayne, that's your name right? Dewayne? This is the voice of experience talking. Are you listening? F*** a lot of women, Dewayne. Not just one woman. A lot of women." (Little Miss Sunshine)
- Scarlett O'Hara: "After all, tomorrow is another day." (If I have to tell you, we shouldn't be friends)
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Saturday, September 06, 2008
So, I just finished scanning the last of my photos! Yeah!
I think I've told a lot of you about this photo. This is Elizabeth's son David...when he was about FIVE MONTHS OLD!!!! Seriously, he's four now and he looks 6. I think he might grow up to be 8 feet tall.
The funny part was Elizabeth was my first close friend to have a baby, so David totally skewed my perspective. I would see other babies and think they were sick or something because they were so small.
Friday, September 05, 2008
Thursday, September 04, 2008
I hope everyone still loves each other after all that because I'm about to embark on another journey so buckle your seat belts!
Actually I just wanted to clarify/address a couple of things.
1. The "If she was a man..." argument: People make this argument often when discussing identity politics and it infuriates me. It infuriates me because there is an imbalance of power at the heart of any discussion about race or gender. Men in our society have historically held more power then woman. White people have historically held more power than people of color. Period. Therefore, it is illogical to reverse the positions and assume the same rules apply. Different rules apply precisely because there is an imbalance of power. It's the reason I can call my girlfriend a bitch but her male coworker can't. It's the reason we wouldn't have to worry about how a male candidate like Sarah Palin would be treated because if Sarah Palin was a man she would have never been picked in the first place.
2. Women with young children in public office: Let me make myself perfectly clear. I do not in any way believe that being the mother of young children disqualifies you from public service. In fact, I was thinking back and I remembered "Oh wait, I do actually care about equal representation for women!" because I posted a Washington Post story that profiled working moms in Congress, including one Republican who had recently given birth to a child with down syndrome. However, I loved that article because there wasn't a single thread of "you can have it all" in the entire piece. Debbie Wasserman Schultz talks about the guilt she feels leaving her 8 year old with a fever to go to a fundraiser. Deborah Pryce talks about putting her daughter on a pretty unique schedule so they can spend time together. And then there is Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who gave birth to a son with down syndrome in April of 2007. (FYI - she took a month, not three days off)
"Our goal is to maximize our time together as a family as we learn more about the demands and what it's going to take," said McMorris Rodgers, who took a month off and eased back to work part time, shuttling between her Hill house and the Capitol complex to greet constituents or attend committee meetings. A beeper at home summons her when it's time to vote. She breast-feeds Cole while flipping through briefing books.
All I'm saying is that I would like to hear the same honest, self-reflection from Sarah Palin. I don't think that's sexist - just the opposite. I can't emphasize this enough. I don't think it's progress to expect women candidates to act like male candidates and never address how they are going to meet the challenges of work and family. We want to go in the other direction. We want male candidates to be forced to answer these questions because everyone doesn't assume their wife will take care of the kids. In fact, I would hope that the power of female candidates is their ability to uniquely understand the concerns of primary caregivers all over this country and bring those concerns to the forefront, because like it or not women are the overwhelming majority of primary caregivers. I wish she'd come out and said, "I am making history not only because I'm a woman but because I'm a working mom. I understand the challenges and sacrifices mothers all over this country make every single day. I know that we do the things we do because of our kids, not in spite of them, and I will bring that very valuable perspective to this administration." Then I would have stood up and cheered. But she didn't.
To be honest, as someone who wants to run for office one day, I'm going to go ahead and say I have thought more about this issue than anyone who reads this blog or made a comment. I have spent a lot of time thinking about the fact that because of the career path I want to take I will simply not be there for my children all the time. There will be times when they are sick, or in a school play, or just need a hug and I simply will not be there. I have decided that the benefits they will receive will hopefully outweigh the costs. I have chosen a partner who is committed to my goals and was raised in a family where everyone pitched in no matter their gender. I have decided to move home and be near my family because if I'm not going to be there all the time I want the people who raised me to be there in my place. So, please, do not think for a millisecond that this is not an issue I have not thoughtfully considered or that by pointing out that men are held to a different standard you are somehow telling me something I didn't already know. And to imply that I only care about the equal rights of women in my own party is such a low blow I will only address it to say, how dare you.
3. GOP - Party of Progress?: So, just to be safe I went to John McCain's website and you know to see if they all of a sudden supported the Family and Medical Leave Act or paid maternity/paternity leave or the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act? Turns out, not so much. What about equal benefits for part-time work or universal preschool for all three and four year old? Nope. Maybe making discrimination against parents illegal or a universal child allowance? Negatory. Actually there wasn't a section on women's issues at all.
However, Obama has a section on women and families. Of course, he supports Fair Pay and you can read about his support for expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act, high-quality after school programs, and a child and dependent care tax credit here. Oh, and he wants to protect against caregiver discrimination.
So, yeah, on your mark, get set, go!
P.S. This is completely unrelated but if I hear one more Republican say that Sarah Palin is more experienced because she's made executive decisions and Barack Obama has not I'm going to scream. Unless I was taking a nap and missed John McCain as Governor of Arizona, I'm pretty sure he has never served as an executive either.
P.P.S. I just watched this video and gave my first ever donation to Barack Obama.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Let me make this unequivocally clear.
I will be voting for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
The choice of Sarah Palin has one upside and one upside only - that no matter what it won't be two white guys. That's good. That's progress. However, Sarah Palin does not represent me or my interests or what I believe is best for this country and I will not be voting for her.
When I first heard that John McCain had picked a female running mate, I admit that I was immediately concerned. I worried that disgruntled Hillary supporters might connect with this decision and feel like John McCain understood their concerns. The more I learn about Sarah Palin the less concerned I am.
First and foremost, I was shocked to learn of the age of her youngest child. I find it massively hypocritical that the party of traditional family values has embraced this woman who is clearly not going to fulfill her traditional role. If she wants to discuss openly that her husband will quite his job and become the primary caregiver then fine, but this narrative I keep hearing that she'll be able to do it all is insulting and it hurts all the progress women have made over the last few decades.
You cannot have it all. Every day I watch dear friends struggle with these issues and I constantly think about the tough decisions Nicholas and I will make when we have children of our own as we pursue careers and raise a family. Our society needs an honest discussion about work and life balance, not to be told that of course you can raise a family of five with time left over for the second most powerful job in the country.
I understand that Sarah Palin is not the first executive with young children. John F. Kennedy, Jr. was only a few months old when the Kennedys entered the White House and Barack Obama has small children of his own. However, at least Barack and Michelle are honest. Michelle Obama has made it clear that this campaign was going to be a huge life-changing sacrifice for her children - one she was hesitant to make. That it meant their dad and mom would not be there as much but that she felt for their future and the future of our country it was a sacrifice worth making.
If Sarah Palin were to honestly admit that she will not be the one their to take her infant son to therapy or doctor's visit, but that she feels that she can make a difference not only for him but for all special need children then maybe I would have a bit more respect for her decision. In fact, I purposely held off writing this post to give her a chance to address these issues in her speech tonight and she did not. She waved her mom flag repeatedly but did not honestly address the real sacrifices she would be making as a mother - primarly time with her own children.
Then, of course, we all learned that in addition to the infant son, her 17-year-old daughter Bristol is five months pregnant. Again, Sarah Palin and the conservative pundits waved this flag as proof of her pro-life credentials then balked if anyone wanted to discuss the issue further - if they wanted to discuss her cutting funding for projects that help teenage mothers or her opposition to sexual education in schools that might keep other kids from the same fate. Actually, policy aside, I want to know what made Sarah Palin decide that this job was worth the public scrutiny her young daughter (not to mention the baby's father) would be under or, even worse, if she was delusional enough to think it might not come out at all. Openly acknowledging that there will be upsides and downsides of public life for your children is one thing. Putting them in the spotlight during the most difficult time in their life is quite another.
I admit that this is pretty personal stuff but to be honest with you I don't know much else about the woman. I know that she has a little under 10 years of public service - most of it as the mayor of a town of 6000. The town where she advocated the banning of books. I know she supported the Bridge to Nowhere and Ted Stevens - the two biggest sympols of corruption and government waste in the last decade. I know she has shockingly little education. I know she's under investigation for abusing her power as governor and I know if I was raped tomorrow by my own father, she would deny me the right to an abortion.
I'm not sure what more I need to know.
Top 10 places you want to go before you are too old to enjoy them: I picked places that I think would be too exhausting either based on physical excersion or the mental excersion of being in a completely different culture.
- Tanzania on Safari
- Hking in the Grand Canyon
Monday, September 01, 2008
The colosseum was another highlight of our trip. It's slightly smaller then the one in Rome but in much better condition. As we kept walking up and up to the top levels, I kept thinking how many ancient peoples walked were i walked. It was pretty unbelievable.
Friday, August 29, 2008
We really thought it was gone forever so it was so exciting to finally see it. Also, to clarify for those of you following along (or delighting in our suffering...I'm looking at you Rob!) We had packed our carry-ons assuming our bag would get lost and we couldn't get it back til we returned to Tunis on Thursday. So, we had clothes, toiletries, books, etc. The only thing we forgot was Nicholas's swimsuit and sunscreen, which was easily bought. It actually worked out ok because we weren't lugging our heavy bag across the desert and to three different hotels in three nights at the beginning of our trip.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Before we left for our desert excursion we had a few hours in Tozeur to wonder around. We took a a carriage tour through the Palmeraie which is the second largest in the country with around 260,000 palm. In addition to date palm trees, the section we visited had bananas, fig trees, pomegranate, and orange trees.
The best part was at one point our very elderly guide suddenly started climbing one of the trees to retrieve some jasmine blossom for me. It was a little disarming but the jasmine did smell fantastic.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I took this on the way to the airport in New York City. It's the Waterfall Installation by Julienne Schaer and I had really wanted to see it. So, I took this as a good omen.
Monday, August 25, 2008
After a lazy morning and late breakfast, we went to visit the Zaytouna Mosque at the center of the medina. Non-muslims are allowed into the courtyard only at the beginning of the day. It was a really calm beautiful space in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of the medina.
We walked around a little bit more - the highlight of which was a little boy who walked up to us and exclaimed, "Bonjour! Un dinar?" Which is basically like saying, "Hello! Dollar?"
We went back and checked out of our hotel and headed to the airport. We decided to get there plenty early, since efficiency is not this country's strong suit. It took about an hour to get our boarding passes and get through customs and security.
There was a pretty interesting social experiment once we got to the gate called "How will Sarah deal with the crazy lax parenting of other cultures?" First, this fat dirty little boy sat behind me and proceeded to knock his chair into mine. When I pushed it away, he turned around and hit me exclaiming "NO POUSSEZ!" I literally didn't even know where his parents were to give them an are-you-kidding me expression.
However, that was nothing compared to another woman who proceeded to change her preschooler's very dirty diaper on a nearby table and then leave the wipes laying there!!! I was beyond horrified and had to warn another woman (who happened to be American) who sat down beside it to eat her lunch not realizing what they were.
Once we got on the flight there were no other run-ins thank goodness and we made it to London and then JFK without incident. More importantly, our bag made it too! For those with good memories, that means Tunisair couldn't deliver our bag with an almost 9 hour layover in London but Virgin Atlantic managed to do it with only an hour and a half. God save the Queen!
We stayed the night with Dan and Laura and were up late telling tales of cultural mishaps and looking at pictures.
We're going to meet my friend Dave for breakfast tomorrow morning then we take the Bolt Bus home. We will hopefully be on our own couch with our sweet dog by 4.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Today was our last full dau in Tunisia and it was great.
We hired a driver to take us to the city of El Jem to see the ancient Roman colosseum. It is a bit smaller but much better preserved than the one in Rome - as in we could walk in the corridors on the top level preserved.
If we thought the sarcophagi were difficult to take in, this was mind-blowing. It was so beautiful but also overwhelming to think of how many people flowed through the corridors or for that matter how many came in to the arena and never left.
We wondered around the colosseum for a while then walked over to the archeological museum, which had amazing mosiacs and a restored roman villa with the original mosiac floors. It was all completely amazing and a great end to what I'm deeming the ancient portion of our trip.
We had a quick lunch in El Jem where I had my last brick l'ouef and then we headed home.
Once back at our hotel, we checked out the computer and TV, which we had just discovered before we left. I was probably more excited than reasonable about email access, although my excitement was dampered a bit by the arabic keyboard.
We went out on the town for our last dinner in Tunis and had chicken couscous (of course!). We had coffee and desert on the hotel rooftop deck overlooking the city as we listened to the final call to prayer of the evening.
All in all the perfect last day.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
We took it easy this morning and didn't leave for Carthage until almost 11. We took the suburban train line out there, which was a pretty quick trip.
We hiked up Bysra hill once we got there and took in the amazing view and the musuem. Nicholas said it and I completely agree that it is really difficult to comprehend how old everything is. We were looking at these two stone syrcophagi from the 4th century BC and neither of us could wrap our brains around the objects in front of us being 2400 years old, partcularly since we've only been alive 1/100th of that time.
After leaving the museum we walked down to the Antonine Baths, which were the remains of a huge Roman bath complex. It was gorgeous set against the deep azure blue of the water.
Next, we took the train a few stops up to Sidi Bou Said, a very chic beach community. We hiked all the way to the top before realizing the only ATMs were at the bottom of the hill. We had a very frustrating 30 minutes searching out cash but Amen Bank came to our rescue - and the choir said amen!
After taking a taxi back to the top, we enjoyed some very tasty local donuts and a relaxing rest at the cafe. We attempted to eat at one of the local restaurants we'd heard a lot about but they weren't going to serve us for several hours.
So we took a VERY hot train ride back to Tunis and stopped at the local Monoprix for dinner provisions. After much needed showers, we had dinner in our room and went to bed early.
Tomorrow is our last full day here and we've hired a driver to take us to El Jem to see the Roman amphitheater.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Whoops. Pressed send instead of save.
Anyway, we arrived in Tunis around 11 and were beyond surprised when our bag showed up too!
We took a cab to the medina and checked into our hotek, the Dar El Medina. It is a converted 19th century mansion run by the family who has lived here for generations. Our room is completely lovely and we have the neighboring courtyard all to ourselves.
We set out for the mosque and surrounding markets after we had settled in to the hotel. It was like something out of a movie. We walked around and tried to take it all in - the objects, people, sights, smells. We bought some souvenirs and I think we only got ripped off once. We had the hang of bargaining. It goes something like this.
Seller: 50 dinar
Me: How bout 10 dinar?
Seller: IMPOSSIBLE! 40 dinar only. Best price all medina.
Me: 10 dinar
Seller: no no no
Me: Ok thanks!
(Walk away, get about 6 feet)
Seller: Ok! 10 dinar!
That's pretty much how's been everytime. The inefficiency of it kind of wears me out. Just tell me up front how much and save everyone the time, but I guess it's all about the experience.
We stopped for a long lunch at Dar Bel Hadj, which was wonderful. The best part was we met our first American! We overheard her speaking english and introduced ourselves. She was a Texan visiting her Tunisian boyfriend and his family and just like Americans at home she asked us how we ended up in Tunisia.
We went back to the hotel for a while then walked around the medina and ville nouveau a bit. We went to the top of a nearby hotel and took in a panoramic view of the city which was amazing.
We had dinner that night at a beautiful restaurant Essaraya, where the atmosphere was more amazing than the food. I had the kackabou, which was fish with tomatoes, capers, and olives and it was delicious. Nicholas had the Rough Guide recommended mloukhia, and - how do I say this politely? - it tasted better than it looked. It was so ridiculous we both had to fight back giggles.
We headed back to the hotel and after an exhausting day went to bed early.
Tomorrow we head out to the suburbs of Carthage and Sidi Bou Said.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Today was amazing.
I woke up and had a lovely breakfast by the pool. Then I went to the hotel spa and had a massage. It was wonderfully relaxing, although for any of you who have only had massage in the U.S. let me warn you there are differing levels of modesty. The masseuse stayed in the room while I got undressed and had me lay on my back without the sheet for much of the massage. It was very different, but I never felt uncomfortable.
After the massage, I had a thallasotherapy, which is basically sea water hydrotherapy. I got in a big tub of sea water and the attendant sprayed me down under the water with high power saltwater jets. It felt great and my skin felt fabulous afterwards.
Once I was finished, I joined Nicholas by the pool where we swam and hung out for most of the morning.
Then we had lunch...on the beach.
I took a nap...on the beach.
We read for hours...on the beach.
Noticing a patten? :)
We swam in the ocean for a while then decided to turn in because Nicholas was getting a little pink.
The day just kept getting better because we called that afternoon and our bag had arrived! Miracle of miracles! Nicholas had decided it was lost forever so we were pretty excited. It had like three rush tags on it which clearly meant nothing but oh well. The customs officer who checked us out was very excited that we were American and at one point asked for my passport so he could just check flip though and admire it.
We came back to the hotel and got ready for dinner. We went out to the main town on the island (Houmt Souk) for dinner, this time armed with reservations for Restaurant Haroun. It was one of the nicest restaurants we've eaten at since being here. Clearly aimed at tourists, it had performers throughout the night. The food was really good and atmosphere fun so it was great end to a great day.
Tomorrow morning we head back to Tunis.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
We woke up this morning and set out for Matmata. The trip took a little over an hour and we stopped at a berber village along the way where I encountered my first baby camel. I wonder if Maggie would get along well with a baby camel because dang that thing was cute.
We made it to Matmata around 11:30 and were welcomed into a troglodyte home. They're homes basically bulit into the walls of a pit they dig directly into the ground. It was pretty unbelievable, especially the temperatures of the room which stays in the 60's despite the heat. When we arrived the woman who lived there was preparing bread, which she cooked by pressing the mounds of the dough on to the walls of a small fire pit. Our guide had us sit in one of the rooms and she brought in the bread with honey and oil along with mint tea. It was really wonderful and reminded me of a heartier version of naan.
We left there and set out for Gabes, where we would catch a ride to Jerba. We made a quick stop along the way there where we were promptly ripped off by a local boy who shoved a baby falcon in our arms and then charged us 10 dinar A PIECE for the service. Nicholas didn't want to fight him and we decided to take a c'est la vie attitude about the whole thing.
We arrived in Gabes and were dropped by our guide at the louage station. Louages are basically shared minivans and are a pretty common form of transportation in Tunisia. We found a louage going to Jerba without incident and I read most of the way there to distract from the incredible liberties the driver was taking with our safety, especially since there were no seat belts. Needless to say, nicholas has nixed the idea of renting a car and driving ourselves after the experience.
After crossing to the island on a ferry, we headed straight for the airport where our bag was supposed to be delivered the day before. Surprise surprise - it had not arrived but the man assured me it would arrive at either 8 or 10 that night. I guess the either/or arrival time should have tipped me off.
We checked into our very plush resort hotel next. The luxury could not come soon enough after our last couple of hotels - let me tell you. I went for a dip in the pool and we went and checked out the beach. We got ready and attempted to eat out on the town but the recommended restaurant was closed and nothing else looked appealing. So we headed back to our hotel for dinner. It was actually a great meal. We theorized since primarily French stay there they couldn't get away with subpar cuisine.
After dinner, we called the airport to see if our luggage had arrived ... Yeah, that's a big no but "no worry madame. It will arrive tomorrow by 9:30 in the morning."
Yeah, I'll believe that when I see it.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Good news - Nicholas and Tunisia are now BFF!
That's the best thing about vacation I suppose, you never know when things will shift and everything will start going your way. It's just like in life only more intense.
We woke up today and set out early to check with excursion companies and see if our "friend" at the hotel was right and there were no trips to Ksar Ghilane. The first place we found said they could take us but it would be 500 dinar and wouldn't include camp or food. Despite Nicholas's extreme protest that we should take what we can get I insisted we try a few more companies. Right before I promised we'd turn around, we found Heart of the Desert excursions, who had come highly recommended. The owner spoke english and offered us 380 to get us to Gabes and then on a bus to Jerba - oh and that included food and camp. God, I love being right.
He told us to come back in a couple of hours so we went and took a tour of the palmerie in Tozeur and the medina, which was lovely. When we returned, he'd found us a guide that spoke some english, which was just icing on the cake.
We set out for Douz, considered the gateway to the sahara, and arrived around lunch. We had lunch and drove out into the desert to Ksar Ghilane where we would be staying the night. The drive itself was amazing (although I might have napped for a little bit). The landscape was beautiful and immense and we stopped several times to take pictures of rock formations, the big salt lake, and I kid you not - a camel crossing!
Once we arrived at the camp, we settled into our tent and then had drinks by the spring. At around 6:30, we set out on our sunset camel tour over the desert. The second we walked out behind the cafe the dunes took my breath away. They were different from the ones on the drive - vivid orange like something out of Lawrence of Arabia. We rode along with a very nice Italian couple and their son for about an hour and a half to the Roman ruins of Limes. We watched the sunset from there which was phenomenal. Watching the sun set over a sea of sand is truly something I will never forget.
Of course, I look over at Nicholas who is CHECKING HIS BLACKBERRY! He seemed to be more amazed by the fact that he had service then by his surroundings. :)
We rode back which was a little intense because of the increased wind and sand. Our bums were getting pretty sore by this point but even so it has to be one of the coolest things I have ever done.
We came back and had dinner at our camp and a well-deserved rest.
Tomorrow we set off back across the desert to Matmata - start humming the Imperial March now because this is where Uncle Owen's house in Star Wars was filmed. To say Nicholas is excited would be an understatement.
Monday, August 18, 2008
The day started out well. We had a nice breakfast on the balcony of the hotel. We took the metro out to the Bardo Museum, which was amazing. They had everything from prehistoric tools to greek bronzes recovered from a shipwreck. The museum is known for its roman mosiac collection and I can see why. Mosiacs two stories high with scenes across land and water - pretty impressive I have to say.
Afterwards, we came back to the hotel and checked out then had a nice lunch at a seafood restaurant named Chez Slah.
We decided to go to the airport early to sort out our luggage situation. There seemed to be no problem sending it on to Jerba where we will be for two nights, two nights from now.
So we were on to check in for our 3:30 flight to Tozeur, when they informed us it was cancelled and we'd have to wait until 7:45. We had planned to get to Tozeur early to sort out our desert excursion the next day so we tried to do some arranging through the tourist agency without much success.
We decided to just hang out at the airport for the next couple of hours which is when Nicholas and Tunisia's relationship started to go sour.
We finally got to Tozeur that night and found our hotel- which is supposed to be helpful with excursions- not helpful at all. In fact, he told us repeatedly there were no excursions. Depressed, we went to dinner at a really nice restaurant and ate our first couscous and a regional specialty called brick l'oeuf.
They were both delicious but we were pretty dispirited and went to bed hoping our luck would be better tomorrow.
Stay tuned to see if nicholas and tunisia work things out!
SPOILER ALERT - we are headed out on our desert excursion later today. Probably will not have wireless access from this afternoon through tomorrow.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
I'm counting our first two days of travel as one big day since that's sort of how it felt.
We left friday morning on a bus to new york. We got there plenty early so we had lunch with our dear friends Laura and Dan at this adorable pizza place outside.
Our flight to london was pretty uneventful once we got off the ground. Unfortunately, that took over 2 hours because of a rain delay. We were afraid we would miss the opportunity to go into London but it worked out fine. We spent the morning on a double decker bus tour and got off at big ben to have lunch with my college friend Jane Conner, who lives in London.
The craziest part was as we were walking back from lunch to finish our tour I ran into a friend from law school ON THE STREETS OF LONDON!!! Saying it's a small world seems cliche but dang it's a small world.
Our flight to Tunis was a little late taking off. We sat down next to lovely woman returning to visit her parents and not soon after take off one of the male flight attendants brought us all some candy. No one else seemed to get any so I was confused. Nicholas thought he was trying to flirt with the woman sitting next to us. Turns out he was definitely right because over the course of the flight he brought her extra desserts from first class (which she shared), champagne for all of us, a bag full of the tiny liquor bottles! When we thought he was tapped out, he moved ALL of us to first class, gave her more liquor, toilettes, and a desert rose broach!
It was totally hilarious and she took it all in stride. When I took a picture of the liqour, she said I should put her clevage in the shot since that was what got us all the stuff!
We thought we were on a roll with our free upgrade but our bag never made it (despite the 8 hour layover!) and we're going to have to figure out how to get it since we leave tomorrow before it shows up.
We'll keep you updated.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
We leave tomorrow morning for our vacation. We take a bus to NYC, where we fly to London. We have an 8 hour layover so we'll be seeing a bit of the city and meeting my friend Jane for lunch. We arrive in Tunis, Tunisia, on Saturday night at 9pm.
Hopefully, we'll post some via Nicholas's international blackberry while we're there.
Try hard not to miss us too much while we're gone!
Monday, August 11, 2008
Top 10 Albums to Take With You to a Desert Island
This was more difficult then I expected. Do you pick classics you know you won't get tired of? Or do you go with albums that have been instrumental in your own life? Do you pick a varied selection so you have something for every move? I basically went with all three strategies because I couldn't decide.1. Joni Mitchell - Blue
2. The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
3. Ben Folds - Ben Folds Live
4. Dixie Chicks – Wide Open Spaces
5. The Beatles – Revolver
6. Edith Piaf – Voice of the Sparrow
7. Trisha Yearwood – Songbook
8. Indigo Girls – Indigo Girls
9. Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
10. Coldplay - Parachutes